Native American film premieres at Sundance

This was originally posted by Brenda Norrell at

Native American film premieres at Sundance

Celebrating its 25th year, the 2009 Sundance Film Festival runs January 15-25 in Park City, Salt Lake City, Ogden, and Sundance, Utah

By Sundance Film Festival
Censored News

Wounded Knee

Producer Stanley Nelson

On the night of February 27, 1973, a caravan of cars carrying 200 armed Oglala Lakota—led by American Indian Movement (AIM) activists—entered Wounded Knee on the Pine Ridge Reservation and quickly occupied buildings, cut off access, and took up defensive positions. When federal agents arrived, they declared, “The Indians are in charge of the town,” and a 71-day standoff ensued. Compiling an astonishing amount of archival film footage (notable for the key moments it captures) and firsthand accounts from participants, Stanley Nelson creates an immersive, comprehensive account of the occupation and its fascinating complexity. The Sioux sought redress of old grievances and broken treaties (just miles from the massacre of 1890) but also demanded the ouster of Pine Ridge tribal leader Dick Wilson, who governed through corruption and intimidation as he pursued deeply divisive policies of assimilation. Nelson also explores the climate of racism in border towns; the broad political context that shaped the AIM—its tactics, organization and ability to exploit the national media; and ultimately the role armed protest played in Native American self-conception. With its iconic images of Indians holding the government at bay, Wounded Knee not only brought national attention to an invisible community and its desperate conditions but contributed to the tribe’s awakened sense of dignity and connection with their proud heritage.
Stanley Nelson – Stanley Nelson, recipient of a 2002 MacArthur Fellowship, is executive producer of Firelight Media. Nelson’s work includes Jonestown: The Life and Death of Peoples Temple; A Place of Our Own, which screened at the 2004 Sundance Film Festival; The Murder of Emmett Till, honored with a 2003 Sundance Special Jury Prize, Peabody Award, Primetime Emmy, and IDA Award; and Marcus Garvey: Look for Me in the Whirlwind, which screened at Sundance in 2001. He also directed Black Press: Soldiers Without Swords, which won a DuPont-Columbia Silver Baton and the Sundance Film Festival’s Freedom of Expression Award in 1999.
Screenings: Fri. Jan 16 2:30 p.m. – WOUND 163A Holiday Village Cinema III, Park City; Sat. Jan 17 6:00 p.m. – WOUND 17BE Broadway Centre Cinemas VI, SLC; Mon. Jan 19 9:00 a.m. – WOUND 19TM Temple Theatre, Park City; Thu. Jan 22 8:30 p.m. – WOUND 223N Holiday Village Cinema III, Park City –Spectrum

Barking Water
Producer Sterlin Harjo
Before Oklahoma was a red state, it was known as the Land of the Red People, described by the Choctaw phrase Okla Humma. In his sophomore film, Sterlin Harjo takes viewers on a road trip through his own personal Oklahoma, which includes an eclectic mix of humanity.Irene and Frankie have a difficult past, but Frankie needs Irene to help him with one task. He needs to get out of the hospital and go home to his daughter and new grandbaby to make amends. Irene had been his one, true, on-again, off-again love until they parted ways for good. But to make up for the past, Irene agrees to help him in this trying time.With steady and graceful performances by Richard Ray Whitman as Frankie and Casey Camp-Horinek as Irene, this story takes viewers for a ride in the backseat of Frankie and Irene’s Indian car, listening to their past and the rhythmic soundtrack that sets the beat for a redemptive road journey. Harjo wraps us in the charm and love of Oklahoma through the people and places Irene and Frankie visit along the way. In this sparingly sentimental and achingly poignant film, Harjo claims his place as one of the most truthful and honest voices working in American cinema today. Barking Water is an expression of gratitude for the ability to have lived and loved.
Sterlin Harjo – Director Sterlin Harjo was selected in 2006 as one of the inaugural recipients (and the first Native American one) of the prestigious United States Artists Fellowship. Harjo’s first feature film, Four Sheets to the Wind, premiered at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival and has been widely screened nationally and internationally at film festivals and art cinemas. To enable him to concentrate on this production, Harjo was selected in 2004 as one of the Sundance Institute’s first five Annenberg Foundation film fellows.
Screenings: Sat. Jan 17 2:15 p.m. – BARKI17 RA Racquet Club, Park City; Sun. Jan 18 noon – BARKI 18SD Screening Room, Sundance Resort; Wed. Jan 21 6:15 p.m. – BARKI 214 E Holiday Village Cinema IV, Park City; Thu. Jan 22 2:30 p.m. – BARKI 22LA Library Center Theatre, Park City; Sat. Jan 24 6:00 p.m. – BARKI 24 WE Tower Theatre, SLC –Spectrum

The Only Good Indian
Producer Kevin Willmott
With this outstanding revisionist western, Kevin Willmott stakes out new territory in a genre that seemed completely settled. Fancifully configuring the symbols of the genre, he creates a fascinating parable of American history. At the outset, young Nachwihiata lives a peaceful existence with his agrarian family until a band of white marauders attacks their homestead. They forcibly remove him and take him to a white Christian boarding school, where Native children are assimilated into the dominant culture. Renamed Charlie, he chafes under the lie of his new identity and, before long, runs away. He’s soon captured by bounty hunter Sam Franklin, an assimilated Indian who now only aspires to round up other Indians for reward money. The plot thickens when Sam and Charlie are pursued by a cruel, grizzled sheriff, who also wants the bounty on the missing boy. Like a true warrior, Charlie faces repeated tests of his courage and self-awareness, discovering the painful contortions of identity and despair to which many of his race are consigned, and the conflicts that remain even after the Indian Wars have supposedly ended. Willmott constructs a fascinating plot, laced with intriguing twists and ever-higher plateaus of suspense, infused with gothic devices that underline the horrors involved. The Only Good Indian is a worthy fictional account of an essential American story.
Kevin Willmott – Kevin Willmott wrote and directed the critically acclaimed feature film C.S.A: Confederate States of America, which speculated on what our lives would be like if the South had won the Civil War. The film premiered at the 2004 Sundance Film Festival. His new film is The Only Good Indian, featured in this year’s Festival. Willmott recently completed Bunker Hill, which he produced, directed, and cowrote. He has also written, produced, and directed for television and the stage. Willmott is currently an associate professor in the film-studies department at Kansas University.
Screenings: Fri. Jan 16 5:30 p.m. – ONLYG 163E Holiday Village Cinema III, Park City; Sat. Jan 17 3:00 p.m. – ONLY G17 BA Broadway Centre Cinemas VI, SLC; Sun. Jan 18 9:00 a.m. – ONLYG 18TM Temple Theatre, Park City; Sat. Jan 24 9:00 p.m. – ONLY G244 N Holiday Village Cinema IV, Park City; Sun. Jan 25 11:30 a.m. – ONLY G254D Holiday Village Cinema IV, Park City –SpectrumNATIVE AMERICAN ACTOR PATRICK D. SHINING ELK IN “LA MISSION” WITH BENJAMIN BRATT AND “THE ONLY GOOD INDIAN” WITH WES STUDI Two Independent Films World Premiering in the Spectrum Programat the Sundance Film Festival 2009
Patrick Shining Elk in two world premieres at Sundance
By Standing Elk Entertainment
Native American veteran actor Patrick D. Shining Elk will make two world premiere film appearances at the Sundance Film Festival, January 15-25, 2009 in Park City Utah. Sundance 2009 appearances for Shining Elk include his character as “Gary” one of the “Mission Boyz” in Peter Bratt’s film “La Mission” starring Benjamin Bratt, and as “Martin Two Spirit” in Kevin Willmott’s “The Only Good Indian” starring Wes Studi.
La Mission is a haunting story of healing and transformation: the healing of a broken man, of a father’s relationship with his son, and of a neighborhood struggling to break the chains of violence. As a recovering alcoholic and ex-con that gets by on intimidation, Che (Benjamin Bratt) is also a devoted father to teenage son Jesse who he violently rejects after discovering that Jesse is gay. Prompted in part by his headstrong neighbor Lena, Che must confront his long held prejudices to repair his parental relationship. A bus driver by day, Che lives for his son, lifelong friends, and his passion for lowrider cars. Che and the “Mission Boyz” salvage junked cars, transforming them into classics.
Sundance veteran Peter Bratt (Follow Me Home) returns with a powerful second feature. Propelled by commanding performances from Jeremy Ray Valdez as Jesse and Erika Alexander as Lena—and featuring an exceptional turn by Benjamin Bratt.
LA MISSION at Sundance: Monday, January 19, 8:30 pm — Prospector Square Theatre, Park City; Wednesday, January 21, 2:30 pm — Library Center Theatre, Park City; Friday, January 23, noon — Egyptian Theatre, Park City; Saturday, January 24, 9:45 pm — Broadway Centre Cinemas V,
CONTACT: Michelle R. Shining Elk; SHINING ELK ENTERTAINMENT GROUP; Telephone: 818.813.3701; Email:



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